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Product Trial Strategies

Blog: Collaborative Planning & Social Business

Selling big complex products is always a challenge.  I recently was asked why not make the product simply available on the cloud for free sign-up and access so that people can try it out for free.  Here is my response.

Been There, Done That

In 2010 we launched our cloud based BPM initiative, and we set it up to allow free access to people.  We ran this until around 2014.  Obviously this was early days, and if we did it again now we might do a much better job.  We still have BPM in the cloud and the same thing on premises however you want it.  But we don’t offer free trials on the cloud.

We learned a couple of things.  The main one is that enterprise application integration and BPM are inherently complex subjects.  The problem is not drawing a diagram.  The problem is wading through all the myriad networks of existing systems to determine what needs to be called when, and what all the boundary conditions are going to be.  Your legacy systems were not designed to be “integrated to”  and they lack proper documentation of any kind for use in the next generation technology.

VM Approach Preferred

Instead of offering people a free trial on the cloud, we offer a free trial by downloadable VM.  One downloads a 4 to 5 gigabyte file, and in ten minutes you can have it running using VM Player or other such tool.  We put it on a freely distributable version of Linux, include the community version of Postgres, and free versions of everything else you would need.

With a free VM, you have everything that you would get from a free cloud trial, except these advantages:


I don’t mean to say that a “free trial on the cloud” approach is a bad idea.  It is great for products that can be learned in a few hours of fiddling.  But the above limitations are real when dealing with a system designed to handle big problems.  We have opted for a VM approach because it is a better approach for learning the system, teaching the system, doing development, and also for doing demonstrations of solutions built on the system.

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